The Economics of Journal Publishing


Case study: Ecology

Prices and publishers

Who publishes the top tier?

Cumulative plots

Estimating circulation

Journal numbers over time

Comparing other fields

Prices and publishers across disciplines

Cumulative plots across disciplines

Top science journals


Economics of ecology journals

Will open access be able to compete?

Costs and benefits of site licenses

Electronic subscriptions: A boon for whom?

Value and price by journal

Contact Information

Carl T. Bergstrom

Department of Biology
University of Washington
Box 351800
Seattle, WA 98195-1800

Ecology journals: circulation figures

How broadly are the various journals circulated? It is not easy to collect precise data on how many institutions subscribe to particular journals. These circulation data are usually closely-guarded secrets, especilally among commerical publishers that do not rely on advertising revenue. Fortunately, we can use the OCLC interlibrary loan database to estimate circulation rates for ecology journals. The number of OCLC subscribers is usually about 20% of the total number of US libraries subscribing.

Below, we order journals as before, by price per citation. Overlayed on the cumulative citations plot is the number of OCLC member libraries subscribing to each ecology journal. This gives us a rough estimate of the order in which librarians on average are choosing to acquire the ecology journals. (It also gives us a rough estimate about the distribution of library sizes.)

OCLC circulation for ecology journals
[ View a high-detail PDF version of this image ]

The ecology journals vary tremendously in circulation. The strong negative correlation between position in the citation-ranked list of journals and the number of OCLC subscribers suggests that librarians may be basing subscription decisions upon criteria relatively similar to, or at least highly correlated with, the price-per-citation measure.

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Last modified September 4, 2002
Copyright © 2002 Carl T. Bergstrom